Add Depth to Sessions

Sarah Snyder -

Our goal in a session is to help the student learn and understand - not just to help them get an answer to a single question. Here are some tips to add depth to your sessions. Don’t worry - you don’t have to do all of this every time! Choose what fits best for your session.

Provide more detail and share tips.

  • If a student is unclear on how to do something or what comes next, give more detail when you point them in the right direction.
  • Share some helpful reminders.
  • Examples:
    • “The way you can tell this is a right triangle is that this little mark in the corner. That means the angle is 90 degrees.”
    • “I always remember it like this: The < looks like a little alligator, and the alligator always wants to eat the biggest number, so the open mouth is towards the side that’s biggest.”

Check their understanding.

  • Avoid questions like, “Do you understand why we did that?” Students often say “yes” because they’re uncomfortable admitting they don’t know.
  • Try questions that don’t have yes or no answers:
    • “Why did we do that?”
    • “Can you explain how you think that works?”
    • “Can you explain that back to me?”
  • Ask related questions:
    • “How would the answer change if this was a minus sign instead?”
    • “What would we do if there was a three here?”

Show them how to double-check their answer.

  • If there’s a good method for quickly checking their answer, show them. That can be a huge help on a test!

Quickly summarize steps.

  • For common processes, summarize the steps and add notes to reference later.


For short sessions - 

MathElf's free trial students have a 5-minute minimum session length. We want to make sure that students are getting at least 5 minutes of great help in every session. Here are some great suggestions for ways that you can go further in your MathElf sessions that are a little shorter. 

See if the student has another problem.

  • Be sure to see if the student has another problem they’d like to work on before you go.
  • Example phrases:
    • “Is there another question you wanted help with today?”
    • “I’d be happy to work on another problem with you. Do you want to upload another picture?”

Do a similar example.

  • If they don’t have another problem from their homework to use, do a similar example to reinforce the steps.
  • Make up a problem yourself or get a similar problem here.
  • Good lead ins:
    • “Let’s do one more like that to make sure you’ve got it!”
    • “Here’s a similar problem so you can practice the steps one more time.”
    • “That was great! Now, try to do this one on your own.”
  • Avoid asking things like, “Do you want to do one more?” Students will usually just say no, even though they probably need the practice.
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